FEBRUARY 2, 2019 — Passing through Terminal C at Logan Airport, it’s hard to miss the championship banners hanging above the security checkpoint. They represent every title won by the Red Sox, Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots, and there is one honoring the 2018 Boston Marathon champions. It’s an impressive lineup that spans nearly the width of the airport rafters.
So what happens if a local football team defeats a tough opponent from Los Angeles in a championship game in Georgia? Time to make room for another banner, right? Actually, that Boston-LA scenario played out in the 2018 Women’s Football Alliance national championship. The local team got the upset win, but not an airport banner. At least, not yet.
In case you missed it: Last July, at a stadium about 25 miles north of Atlanta, the Boston Renegades dominated the previously undefeated LA Warriors, 42-18, in the WFA title game. Less than a week later, the Renegades asked Massport about raising a banner to recognize their title. In response to their e-mail, the Renegades received a ticket number and a promise that an “agent will respond to your ticket as soon as possible.” They followed up, but there’s been nothing further from any airport authorities.
With the Patriots going after another Super Bowl win on Sunday, it seems like a good time to revisit the Renegades’ quest because the Renegades deserve more than a reply from Massport or the Terminal C interior decorator. They deserve an airport banner, really four banners if you count the three national championships won when the team was called the Boston Militia. And why wouldn’t they count? While we’re at it, the NWHL’s Boston Pride deserve a banner for winning the Isobel Cup in 2016.
Now, nobody in their right mind believes the WFA championship is on the same level as the Super Bowl. That’s also true for the Isobel Cup and the Stanley Cup. But hanging a Renegades banner near five Patriots banners and a Pride banner near six Bruins banners isn’t about comparing or contrasting or equating titles. It’s about something bigger.
Let’s be clear about why the Renegades want a banner and what Terminal C represents: It’s about getting the respect they’ve earned and the recognition they need to build a broader fan base. Taking a slightly more expansive view, an airport banner presents an opportunity to elevate women’s sports and promote inclusion. That’s a good look for all involved.
The banner display is about showing city pride and celebrating Boston’s best, and reinforcing Boston’s image as a passionate sports town. All good reasons the Renegades and the Pride should be included.
“We’re not saying that we’re the Patriots or anything like that, but a championship is still a championship,” the Renegades’ 37-year-old quarterback, Allison Cahill, said. “We’re playing against the best competition that the country has to offer in women’s football. We’ve risen to the top of that level of competition and we’ve worked our tails off.”
She’s being modest. The players on Boston’s full-contact, semi-pro women’s football team work day jobs then head to night practices during the week and games on weekends. There’s a union electrician on the offensive line, a physical therapist at tight end, a pair of law school students at cornerback, a chef on the defensive line, a teacher and mother of three at wide receiver, a portfolio associate at fullback, and a member of the Terminal C grounds crew at linebacker. The team survives on its players’ passion for football and fans’ donations.
That’s why the Renegades want more people to know they exist, to check out games at Harry Della Russo Stadium in Revere, and to come this spring and get a football fix courtesy of the best women’s team in the country.
“Our progress is slow and steady as far as accumulating a fan base,” Renegades co-owner Michelle McDonough said. “We really need one or two breaks that might start to give us recognition. Our problem isn’t keeping people once they get engaged, it’s getting that first look and getting people to recognize that it’s not powderpuff and it’s not lingerie. It’s real football.”
Massport did not respond to inquiries last month from the Globe.
In women’s sports, the breaks McDonough mentioned can happen at unpredictable times in unpredictable places. One recent example: NHL All-Star Skills Competition, where Olympians Kendall Coyne Schofield and Brianna Decker made headlines. Coyne Schofield impressed in the fastest skater event and Decker showed off her skills in the premier passing event. For hockey fans who weren’t all that familiar with the women’s game, Coyne Schofield and Decker changed perceptions and undoubtedly generated more interest in the NWHL and the CWHL.
While athletes and teams will likely generate more interest at arenas than at airports, it’s the exposure to a larger audience, not the location, that matters most. What kind of break might be around the corner at the security checkpoint? With more than 35 million travelers passing through Logan each year, who knows? But the Renegades want the chance to find out.
There’s also the inspiration factor. Maybe a young girl or teenager or college student or businesswoman sees the Renegades’ airport banner and is curious enough to try out for the team someday.
It looks like there’s space for two or three more banners above the security checkpoint, and there is plenty of room elsewhere in Terminal C to recognize more titles. So why not start with the Renegades and the Pride and build from there. Because it’s always better to be inclusive when you’re raising up women’s sports and representing a city.